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Wren overcomes stomach ailment and opponent to win fight

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Justin M. Bowen

Jon Madsen ((left) and Justin Wren face off during the TUF10 Finale weigh-ins on Dec. 4, 209, at the Palms.

Fight results

265. Justin Wren (8-2) def. Reggie Higgins (3-1) via unanimous decision.

170. Jorge Lopez (7-1) def. Chidi Njokuani (2-2) via TKO Round 1, 4:22.

155. Jason Trevino (3-3) def. Odis Ruiz (2-1) via unanimous decision.

170. Danny Davis (4-1) def. Dave Hulett (5-5) via unanimous decision.

145. Angelo Antuna (7-1) def. Kyle Atkinson (1-3) via submission (arm bar) Round 2, 4:13.

155. JJ Mix (6-4) def. Sean Fitzsimons (7-6) via TKO Round 1, 1:46.

130. Gor Mnatsakanyan (1-0) def. William Fisher (4-5) via submission (rear naked choke) Round 1, 2:41.

115. Michele Gutierrez (1-1) def. Amy Stacy (0-3) via TKO (knee) Round 1, 0:17.

Heavyweight boxer Reggie Higgins (3-1) was not the only thing Justin Wren (8-2) had to overcome in the main event of Saturday’s MMA Xplosion: Fight Night II at the Hard Rock.

“Coming into and even during the fight, I couldn’t stop my stomach pain and there was pain back in my right side, under my ribs,” said Wren. “That’s really all I could think about.”

Despite the agonizing distraction, Wren, a former participant of The Ultimate Fighter 10, managed a unanimous decision victory over Higgins.

“Someone is going to have to put me to sleep before I quit, so I had to fight through the pain,” he said.

Unfortunately for spectators, this meant Wren had to fight conservatively, using his wrestling to smother Higgins.

But he started the match with a bang, taking Higgins down from the clinch with a powerful lateral drop slam.

“On the show against Roy Nelson and Jon Madsen, in the finale, I tried too much standup,” Wren said. “I’m more of a ground guy, so it was good to get back to my roots.”

Wren almost finished Higgins shortly after with an arm triangle chokehold, but Higgins managed to escape.

“I thought my arm triangle was going to put him to sleep,” Wren said. “He was gurgling, but he could just fight it and fight and fight.”

That’s when the ailment became unbearable.

“Usually he can finish from that position,” said Wren’s training partner and fellow TUF 10 castmember Demico Rogers. “He’s relentless on top, and you could definitely tell halfway through the first round something was wrong.”

Still, Wren had another opportunity to finish the fight when he attempted a keylock submission hold in the third round, but Higgin’s refused to quit.

“When I locked up that keylock, his arm was cracking but all he did was grunt,” Wren said. “A lot of guys might have quit before he did.”

The fight, however, took its toll on Wren. Shortly after going backstage following the match, he began vomiting.

“I’ve never thrown up from exercise or any kind of workout,” Wren said. “But in the past month and a half, it seems like I’ve been having a lot of problems with my GI tract and any kind of food I throw up. So it’s been difficult to overcome."

Rogers was concerned.

“I don’t know what it is. He doesn’t know what it is. A couple of doctors don’t what it is,” Rogers said. “He’s just throwing up after fights, throwing up before fights and just losing a lot of energy, cramping up and not keeping down food the way he should be.”

Wren is scheduled for an in-depth medical examination on Tuesday.

Also picking up a win on the card was Wanderlei Silva protégé Jorge Lopez (7-1), who picked up a TKO victory over Chidi Njokuani (2-2), younger brother of WEC fighter Anthony Njokuani.

“I don’t know what’s next for me,” Lopez said after the fight. “But what I want is to be on The Ultimate Fighter. I want to be in the house; I want to show everybody that I’ve got what it takes.”

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